Let’s jump right into things. Let’s talk about Green Day. More specifically, let’s talk about new Green Day. I’m not talking American Idiot (like it’s even new anymore, Christ. We’re getting older, folks), no, forget 21st Century Breakdown. I’m talking Billie Joe Armstrong just turned 40 years old, I’m talking iUNO!. Oddly enough, our pint sized, 40 year-old frontman still writes songs almost exactly the same way he did in the mid 90s. This “new” Green Day is like their old ‘97 counterpart, except they aren’t so curious on the whole “experimentation” thing. There’s no harmonicas, no strings, I don’t think I heard an acoustic guitar on iUNO!. Given the last ten years of their career, there’s something odd about that. Green Day hasn’t been this straight up since Dookie, which is to say that the album doesn’t really pick up, or slow down. The metaphorical pedal is pressed firmly to the floor, and these guys are just waiting to run out of gas.
and they definitely run out of gas. Yes indeedydoo, they do.
There’s some mileage to be had, though. iUNO! starts off with “Nuclear Family” which is probably the most fun song that Green Day has written since Insomniac came out back in ‘95. Aside from obnoxiously glossy production, it really is a fun song. It has a certain confidence that sounds like it came from selling out stadiums for the better part of a decade, but it’s all good. “Stay the Night” is another fun one. It’s not fantastic, but it’s also not atrocious. It goes right in the mound of solid pop-punk songs that Green Day have been churning out since the early 90s. Think of the poppier rock songs off of “Nimrod.” Got it? Yeah. That. Almost exactly that. Adapted slightly to be played in front of 50,000 people.
“Carpe Diem” is garbage. “Let Yourself Go” is catchy filler. Billie Joe pulls these songs out of his ass, and that’s fine. The entire second half of the record falls into the “catchy filler” camp. It’s not bad. Who knows, they could have written most of these songs before American Idiot even came out. “Kill the DJ” is probably the most interesting song on the record. Irritating or not, I appreciate the effort. It really sounds like something fresh. “Oh Love” comes close to capturing a new, interesting sound,, but then someone told Billie Joe that the mind-numbingly bad chorus was a “good idea.” Yikes, guys.
Thematically, most of the songs harken back to the angry, confused, lovesick Green Day of old. A handful of the new tracks still retain their more recent sensibilities, with lazy (but not untrue) criticism of modern culture.
It’s a comfortable, fun album. It’s not bad, it’s not great. It's comfortable, predictable, but not quite dull enough to be average. Personally, I’m the sort of guy who likes to have a couple new Green Day songs. These guys resonate with me, always have, and they’ll probably continue to do so. Having said that, we’ve heard these songs before. Some of them used to be better, some of the redux versions are superior. That’s about it. It’s another handful of songs for these dudes to tear up in a live setting. That’s what they’re good for.